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San Antonio – Colorful opening ceremonies for the 2019 Summer Games of Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) will put approximately 3,000 athletes from all across the state into the spotlight Friday, May 3, at Toyota Field.
The 7 p.m. festivities at the home of San Antonio FC, the professional soccer club playing in the USL Championship, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Games and their first time in San Antonio, proclaimed by the City Council in 2015 as “Inclusion City USA.” Ultra-accessible™, non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland will serve as headquarters for the May 3-5 Games, and The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, the momentum behind the unique theme park and other initiatives to help the special-needs community, is the presenting sponsor.
Actress and philanthropist Eva Longoria will emcee the ceremonies that will include welcoming remarks by Tim Martin, SOTX president; Gordon Hartman, founder of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation; San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg; and Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.
“We’re anticipating a standing-room-only crowd,” Martin said. “Due to the high demand for seating, families of athletes will have first priority of obtaining free tickets. Athletes and coaches signed up for the Games are already guaranteed a ticket. If seats remain, members of the general public can sign up for tickets first-come, first-served at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/early-admission-ticket-530pm-sg-2019-opening-ceremonies-tickets-59854715064 beginning May 1. Another excellent option is to watch the opening ceremonies online at www.sotx.org.”
One of the evening’s highlights will be the running of the Flame of Hope on the last leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), then lighting a cauldron signifying the official start of the Games. That honor will go to Morgan Hartman, the inspiration for Morgan’s Wonderland and other ventures benefitting those with special needs; Zelma O. Couder of El Paso; and Thomas Alonzo of the San Antonio Police Department.
To begin the festivities, a video tribute to Special Olympics participants will be shown on Toyota Field’s giant digital screen. That will lead to a procession into the stadium of competitors and representatives of law enforcement from all over Texas. Accompanied by upbeat music, the athletes will wave pom-poms and carry flags from SOTX’s five regions. Ivan Cabrera of Sharyland will sing the National Anthem; Devin DeReis of McAllen will lead the Pledge of Allegiance; and Bill Carney of Austin will recite the Athlete Oath.
A fireworks spectacle lasting several minutes will cap the evening’s program.
“We’re delighted SOTX has decided to hold the 2019 Summer Games in San Antonio at Morgan’s Wonderland,” Hartman said. “Because of our city’s central location and our emphasis on inclusive fun, we hope we’ll see a record turnout that will continue to grow in years to come. It’s truly an honor and privilege for us to host the Games.”
During the Games, Special Olympians will compete in athletics (track and field), soccer, cycling, gymnastics and tennis.
About Special Olympics Texas
Special Olympics Texas provides opportunities for more than 58,800 Texas children and adults with intellectual disabilities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. For more information, visit http://www.sotx.org/.
About Morgan’s Wonderland
Award-winning Morgan’s Wonderland theme park in San Antonio, which is completely wheelchair-accessible, offers 25 acres of rides, playscapes and other attractions in an atmosphere of inclusion. Next door is ultra-accessible™ Morgan’s Inspiration island splash park, named by TIME Magazine to its list of World’s Greatest Places. For more information, visit www.MorgansWonderland.com.
About Toyota Field
An 8,200-seat stadium, Toyota Field opened in 2013 and has been the home of the USL Championship club San Antonio FC since the spring of 2016. The facility was acquired in 2015 by the City of San Antonio and Bexar County, in partnership with Spurs Sports & Entertainment, which now controls all operations of the facility along with the neighboring STAR Soccer Complex.
In addition to Morgan’s Wonderland and SOTX, entities involved in staging the 2019 Summer Games include the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute TeletonUSA (CRIT), the North East Independent School District (NEISD), Spurs Sports & Entertainment/San Antonio FC, and Visit San Antonio.